Thief-Review-Top

I had a chance to play this one to the fullest. It’s a really different type of game so if you’ve had no interest in it or never heard about it, here’s a quick description:

If you’re into first-person stealth gameplay, you have to play Thief – a reboot of the franchise that created the entire stealth genre. Thief puts you in the role of the legendary burglar Garrett, who aims to steal from the rich in a fantastic, Victorian Steampunk world. Each obstacle can be overcome in multiple ways, and weapons and items can be used to attack or distract, as true thievery is all about deception and cunning. You’ll pick the pockets of NPCs, stalk the shadows of The City, and eventually face The Baron – the evil overlord of this twisted realm. Thief takes full advantage of the Xbox One’s next-gen power, offering beefed-up visuals and wickedly intelligent AI.

Overview

I played the original Thief back in the day and from what I can remember from my childhood, it was an excellent game at the time. The reboot is not quite what I remember, although it doesn’t make for a horrible game. It could be since technology has changed so much, we expect so much more now and back then, ie. using shadows to hide was something new. While the new story is very bland and the characters have no emotion, let alone don’t really feel “next-gen”, it’s still a decent game for what it is. This one is definitely not for the kiddos though so hence the Mature rating and it’s very dark, literally.

The Menu

The menu is pretty simple for the most part. It consists of New Game/Continue, Change Save Slot which just manages your various saved games, Challenge Mode, Leaderboards, Options and Square Enix which simply just links the game to your Square Enix account. As usual, I’ll break each one down into details.

New Game/Continue

This is main story mode of the game. There are 8 main chapters and overall, it took me about 13 hours to complete the story. Now mind you, I did not find everything nor upgraded everything, it was more or less just to fly through the story to see if it was any good, which realistically with all the previous games I’ve played, 13 hours is not bad at all compared to some which you can complete in 5 hours. The story is set in “The City” as in previous Thief titles from back then. Garrett is the main protagonist although, this story doesn’t continue on from the older games and is supposedly takes place hundreds of years later, which its a big coincidence that The City has not really changed that much and somehow a master thief is named Garrett again.

When you begin your game, you are offered the choice of four difficulty levels. They vary from Rogue, Thief, Master and Custom. Rogue is the easiest of course, Thief adds a little more challenge and Master is probably the default hardest. Why I say default is that this is the only game I’ve played so far where you can really customize your difficulty level to a T. Custom mode allows this and also ranks you in a global leaderboard. Within the game, you have various objectives. Your home is in a clock tower, and from there you can explore the city. The only problem I had with the open roaming is that to get from point A to B, was quite cumbersome. There are times I would be completely lost and not know how to get there, which I don’t mind puzzles, but in the “hub” area, it shouldn’t be that difficult.

As you make progress, you will come across a friend named Basso. Later on, Basso will offer you side jobs and you’ll run into “clients” that offer you gold for stealing. This is where the real game shines in my opinion. You are free to do whatever you want, however you want to complete the task. There are no guidelines or things you have to do/follow in order to succeed as it is in the regular story tasks. If a full Thief game was like this, it would be really good in my opinion. Now don’t get me wrong, there are some missions in the story mode where you have some freedom, but it doesn’t really compare to the side jobs. The currency in the game is just G, which we assume is gold. You can steal everything and anything, which makes Master Thief Garrett, not so Master Thief when he’s taking measly forks, hairbrushes and letter openers. The more you steal, the more gold you earn. You can use the gold to purchase needed tools among upgrades to your bow and yourself. The neat thing about “The City” is there is hidden stuff everywhere. To literally find everything, I’m not sure if its even possible, which ranks up many hours with this game.

Along with that, as you make it through the story there are collectible treasures to find, 82 to be exact along with 208 Documents which a lot do point back to the old series, so there is definitely a lot to do for those that like collectable games. Also in the story, you’ll met the Queen of Beggars. Her role is fairly simple, you donate gold to her and she’ll award you with focus points. Focus allows you to see hidden things as well adding in perks such as still being in a shadow when your in light, one hit knockouts and moving fast yet quiet. There are a slew of things to upgrade with focus so this will take you some time as well. I do have to say, without Focus, this game would be incredibly difficult. Lastly, there is a shop that you can use your gold to purchase items. There are a couple of tools that you will want, such as wire cutters and a wrench which allow you to collect more valuable items. You can also upgrade your bow, your body armor among many other things so there is quite a lot of upgrading to do if you give it your all.

Thief has been known to be a complete stealth game and this one is no different. While you have a blackjack to knockout guards, the game doesn’t really push it. What it does and always has done, is leave everything be as you were never there. But in case you do have to have engage in combat, the combat system is fairly simplified. You use the right button to attack, and the left button to dodge. It’s so simple that in my opinion, if you could have used Kinect as an option, it would have made it a much more engaging battle. You also have a “swoosh” ability which allows you to cover a short distance while still being discreet. This is mostly used to get one from shadow to another that has a lighted area in between. You also obtain this item called the “claw” which allows you to scale walls to get to higher surfaces and rooftops. In my opinion, I feel the developers wanted to take the Assassin Creed route but stayed away from it as when you start to scale buildings using pipes and other items to grab, it switches from first-person view to third person and you can really sense a little bit of AC in there. Running and jumping is done automatically by just holding the left trigger.

Your main weapon is your bow however. It’s more of a James Bond kind of bow however as you can get all kinds of different arrows for it, such as fire and water arrows. There’s also a choke, blunt, sawtooth and rope, among a few others that you can use. Using the bow can be quite fun and I would have loved to been able to use Kinect to do it. There’s also other various things you can do. Some treasures will require you to pick the lock. This is fairly simple by just rotating the left stick until it vibrates and then pressing the right trigger. Some items are behind picture frames, which essentially is the same concept by feeling around the back of the frame for the trigger. There are also safes which just use old school combinations, the trick is to learning the numbers to unlock them.

Now that I’ve explained everything that you are capable of, as you complete the story, each chapter will rate you on how you did. You have 3 possibilities – Ghost, Opportunist and Predator. Ghost is as it seems, simply be a ghost in the shadows, do what you need to do and get out of there. Opportunist encourages you to use more of the environment to assist you. Predator is more or less just taking everyone out so you can proceed. How you complete the chapters is ultimately up to you, although some of the chapters will force you to do things you may not want to.

Speaking of the chapters, most of them are the same, however there is a brothel chapter that shows some nudity and the dialogue is definitely not for kids which is why I stated earlier this one is not for the kiddos. There is another chapter, an Asylum, which I thought was brilliant. Very few games give me a scare, but they did this chapter so incredibly well that I was literally scared more than once. Just to give an example as I don’t believe I’m spoiling anything here, but it’s creepy to start with as its abandoned. As you are going through some of the patient rooms, there was one room I opened the door, heard a noise and then something pushed me back. That kind of realism scared me as I felt there were entities in that place. There’s also something that you can’t see walking around and it kills you if you cross its path. That’s the kind of scary I like, not these graphic horror games, we’ve all seen gore in movies and for me, its at the point that its just not scary anymore, so the way they did this level was great.

Challenge Mode

Challenge mode is the other game mode that you can play. It is definitely challenging although it can be quite repetitive. Your main objective in all of the modes is to loot as much as you can. There are 2 maps included – The Northcrest Manor and The House of Blossoms. The creepy Moria Asylum is available as DLC but I really didn’t feel comfortable in that map so I passed on it. There are 3 different game modes for each map. The first is the Chain And Gain mode. You basically want to gather loot as fast as you can to keep the chain timer alive and increase your chain count. You also earn points with valuables collected and can obtain them quicker to increase your multiplier. There isn’t any time limit with this one so you can take your time. There’s a variant mode called Chain And Gain Limited which does have a 10 minute time limit, although as you collect loot fast, you can incrementally increase it. I did make a video of the limited mode so you can take a peek below:

The other mode is Special Loot Hunt. Basically, you have 5 minutes to find collectible loot. If you use the map navigation, its a tad easier as it points out where it is. There are 20 collectibles to obtain, and each one you collect does increase your available time. I also made a quick video of this but I did kind of rush through it and ended up dying quickly. You can take a look below:

Now with all of these modes, you do get penalized for taking guards out, so if you are a “ghost” you will really like this mode, however you can complete them anyway you like.

Leaderboards

The leaderboards simply show you global leaderboards from all the thieves around the world. They are broken down into Challenge Leaderboards – for the mode I explained right before – Custom Leaderboards which is for the custom level of the story mode and Bank Heist Leaderboards. The Bank Heist is DLC so unfortunately I did not purchase it and have no idea how it works.

Options

There are plenty of options in this one. The first option are Controls which just gives a graphical image of the functions of the controller. The next is Game which has quite a few things as well. In here, you can turn Focus and Invert Y-Axis on or off. You can also adjust the Look Sensitivity. Aim-Assist and Vibration can also be turned on or off. The last options enable/disable Kinect features which are Body Control, Voice Detection and Voice Sensitivity. Since we are a Kinect site, I did make a quick video of using the Kinect features which is hard to tell, but I really am using it. The first part I did was with the peeking, although its the same as just using a controller. It would have been a tad better if you could lean out distances based on how much you are leaning with Kinect. The next part I wait for the 2 guards and yell out “Hey” and you can see that got their attention. The last thing I used was the swoop motion by leaning forward. It works for what it is but I would have liked to see more functionality implemented. Anyway, check it out below:

The next option configures your audio setup, which basically allows you to adjust the music/voice and sound fx volumes. There’s also a mixing preset for stereos and headphones, an option to turn Garrett’s voice on or off (I’m assuming its when he talks to himself) and to turn subtitles on or off. The next set is where the Custom difficulty plays a role. Under Display, you can turn all of these things on or off:

  • Navigation Prompts
  • Interaction Prompts
  • Waypoint Markers
  • Threat Icons
  • Threat Health Meters
  • Mini-Map
  • Mini-Map Rotation
  • Reticle Feedback
  • Journal Updates
  • Pick-up Notifiers
  • Light Gem
  • Object Highlights
  • Loot Glint
  • Health Meter
  • Focus Meter
  • Ammo Counter
  • Lock-Pick Helper
  • Frame-Search Helper
  • Location Updates

Now if you want to play the most difficult game ever made, turn off all of this, along with focus and aim-assist and this particular mode would probably take days, not hours to complete, if its even possible. I haven’t seen this deep of difficulty customization ever, so being its new, I like it. You can play this game the way you want to, not how the developers want you to.

The last 2 things are Brightness, which actually baffles me since this is a really dark game, you would think they would have put an in-game brightness adjuster, but not in this one – you have to adjust your TV brightness messing up your display for other games, movies and television. Not a good thing, and last are the credits.

How Could Kinect Make It Better

In my opinion, this game should of had 2 modes, a controller mode and a Kinect mode. I’m assuming since the majority of the population is still anti-Kinect, it has a primary controller mode with just a dose of Kinect features. Kinect could have been used for the entire game to be honest, except for maybe the lock-picking since you do need to feel something, but stick a controller in your pocket and call it good. It would have been cool to use all kinds of gestures, especially for the bow, but we can only hope. Possibly if another Thief title is released, we may have our wishes answered.

Conclusion

In all reality, this isn’t a bad game which is why I gave it a 7. Yes, the graphics aren’t amazing – it’s too dark in my opinion – the characters are lifeless along with bad voiceovers and the story is bland – BUT for the gameplay, it’s really good. If you love the stealth games and in first person, this game is a gem. Compared to Dishonored, which seems to be the go to competitor, I prefer this one. As for the framerate issues being on Xbox One, the only time I experienced anything which was right after the initial map loading that it stuttered for a second, if that, but the cutscenes were fine. It’s not a bad game, but like I mentioned, if the full game was Kinect, this would have been really cool, especially the Asylum level. I’m still up in the air though about it being first person, I think third person would have been a tad better, but it is what it is.


This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of Thief
Scoring policy: What do these game review scores actually mean?